Child Care and Early Education Research Connections

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Trauma and young children: How the problem plays out

Children experience trauma more often than many early childhood educators realize. As many as 26% of children experience multiple trauma events such as abuse, neglect, parental substance abuse, parental incarceration, and so forth. Trauma impacts brain development in many negative ways that may have serious consequences on the child's ability to learn, grow socially and emotionally, and develop physically. These brain changes also change how the child will play in the early childhood classroom, and information is given to help recognize the signs of trauma in children. The early childhood educator can make trauma-sensitive modifications in the classroom to assist the traumatized child's ability to play out the problem. School counselors can be a resource for assisting early childhood teachers when working with traumatized children. A brief description of the importance of play therapy as a developmentally appropriate method to help traumatized young children is provided. (author abstract)
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